In January 2011, I had a dream. A dream of a national organisation for young people focussed on a control and regulation model for drug policy. As it was a quite literal dream, I sat bolt upright in bed and started scribbling down everything I could remember. What did we want to do? How would that work? How on earth were we going to find volunteers, money, advice?
One year on, and as the Re:Vision Drug Policy Network’s first birthday passed largely unnoticed last week – we were too busy campaigning – we’re still asking ourselves those questions, but we do so with a base of volunteers stretching from Edinburgh to London, and even abroad. It has been hard work, but rewarding hard work.
The last twelve months have seen a large number of meetings and a great deal of paperwork. We’re very grateful to the drug law reform organisations that took the time to answer really obvious questions that weren’t obvious at the time, and it has paid off. In the last twelve months we have:
- Established six working groups on areas we determined were essential to our functioning as an organisation.
- Established social media channels which now have 1300 followers.
- Developed a range of posters and leaflets to translate the drug war easily.
- Developed our resources for people wanting to start local groups, including an 8,000 word campaigning guide.
- Protested at the March for the Alternative on March 26th.
- Protested on June 30th 2011 against cuts to drug user services.
- Started a project to ask students about their use of cognitive enhancing drugs.
- Absorbed dozens of volunteers into our organisation.
- Marked World AIDS Day with a special briefing on the effect of HIV/AIDS on injecting drug users.
- Submitted evidence to the Home Affairs Committee inquiry into drug laws.
- Submitted feedback to the European Commission on their new anti-drugs strategy.
- Held a stall at the Green Party Spring Conference.
- Submitted a motion on climate change and the environment to the Campaign Against Climate Change Annual General Meeting.
- Set up a website to document all of these things and promote our message.
- Started a blog!
For an organisation run entirely by volunteers in their spare time, I think we have much to be proud of, and we have barely begun to scratch the surface of the ideas and suggestions that have poured into us. As our fundraising strategy kicks in (feel free to donate here), we will have more funds to support the work of our volunteers and the work of our organisation.
Ultimately, it is the work that is important. I became a drug law reform activist at first because I have very libertarian views on drugs, but I stayed because I was horrified at the injustices being committed against human beings because of the view that drugs are ‘dangerous’. Our work is for the women drug mules who are currently languishing in our prison system, and prisons all over the world for taking an opportunity to earn money to support themselves and their families. Our campaign is for the young men who have their futures ripped away from them for tiny mistakes they’ve made now. Our work is also to reverse the damage done to our budgets, national infrastructure, and the environment, but most of all it is about people. People caught up in a war that was declared on them by some of the most powerful institutions on Earth, whether they take drugs or not, and which has cost tens of thousands of lives. We must do everything we can to stop this.
This blog is the latest effort to mobilise young people. We will be updating it regularly with a variety of news commentary, features and updates to educate and inform young people (and everyone else) about the latest developments in the drug war. We hope it will be a useful communication tool, both from us to you, and from you to us. Please send us your ideas, comments and, if you feel productive, guest posts, either in the comments or through our comment form here
Our first year has achieved much. Our second year will hopefully bring even more, as we don’t have to devote so much time and energy to determining the more mundane things like whether our equipment policy is compliant with charity law. We can just get on with what we’re all truly passionate about – the control and regulation of all drugs, the end to the drug war, and the protection and dignity of human beings. Onward to year two!